It came down to a coin toss.
The vote for a new chairperson at Thursday’s inaugural meeting of the Peace River Regional District board resulted in two six-six ties and was ultimately decided by a 2010 Loonie.
In the race were longtime Chair Karen Goodings, who represents the rural area north of Fort St. John, and Fort St. John mayor Lori Ackerman.
With a call of heads, Ackerman ended Gooding’s 16-year tenure.
It was rural versus urban, change versus status quo in the brief race to helm the northeast’s regional government for the next year.
Each year, the board’s 12 directors elect a member as chair, who is in charge of running meetings and acts as the board's public face.
In her motivating speech, Goodings said she had time to devote to the chair’s job for another year as she no longer “had any pigs or chickens or cows” to take care of on her farm outside Cecil Lake.
Ackerman spoke to the sweeping changes forecast for region’s economy, quoted Henry David Thoreau and added “there are things we need to react to and address to ensure we build a quality of life for our residents.”
In a secret ballot, the board deadlocked twice, sending the decision to a coin toss, as per the board’s internal policy.
Chief Administrative Officer Chris Cvik, who chaired the inaugural meeting, moved to the centre of the room for the toss.
Ackerman called heads. Luck was on her side.
“I’m a huge supporter of democracy, but I’ve never seen it involve a coin,” she told the board.
She said the tight race showed the need for rural and urban directors to work together.
The board has four rural directors, who sometimes find themselves at odds with the eight directors from urban areas. A tie, however, meant two urban directors sided with Goodings.
Goodings said the coin toss was "undemocratic," but believed Ackerman would be able to bring together rural and urban interests as chair.
"It was a bit of a dead heat. The coin is the most undemocratic way I can think of to make this kind of a decision," she said. "But Chair Ackerman will do fine."
She said it was too soon to say what a move from a rural to an urban chair meant for the board.
"It remains to be seen, but I think Mayor Ackerman will be fair [as chair] and it will be fine."
- See more at: http://www.pipelinenewsnorth.ca/news/industry-news/lori-ackerman-ends-karen-gooding-s-16-year-tenure-as-prrd-chair-after-coin-toss-1.1684195#sthash.PcqyaJPV.dpuf